Natural treatments for animals have existed for hundreds of years, and many cultures have used medicinal herbs for horses. Some herbs can help horses better digest their food, while others can help with nervous problems. Hormonal problems and conditions such as arthritis also can be treated in horses using herbs. Deworming also can be accomplished.
There are three kinds of herbs for horses that aid digestion. Bitter herbs work mostly with the liver and help the digestive process. Alterative herbs help the horse's body rid itself of waste and use the nutrition it takes in. Some herbs work as tonics that aid digestion. These include garlic, fenugreek, peppermint, burdock and dandelion.
Nervines are herbs for horses that help calm anxiety so the horses will not react badly to things such as a car backfiring. There are four kinds of nervines that are used to treat horses, including hops, vervain, chamomile and valerian. Hops is an herb that can help a horse focus, while vervain can help keep a horse from fidgeting or being jumpy. Chamomile works to balance both the nervous and digestive systems in horses that have problems with their gut. Valerian can help a tense and anxious horse relax his muscles and avoid problems such as rearing or bucking.
Mares may have hormone imbalances that cause mood swings and occasional aggressive behavior. Balancing herbs can provide relief for many such mares. These herbs for horses balance hormones, ease cramping and help with the pain from ovaries. Balancing herbs include dong quai and vitex, though there are several types of herbal mixes for mares that can help with hormonal problems.
Arthritis and other kinds of inflammation are common problems in horses. A wide variety of herbs for horses can be used to help treat these conditions. Such herbs are often available in blends that can provide more help for a horse than just one herb could. White willow, alfalfa, milk thistle, nettle and calendula are all herbs that can be used to help equine arthritis pain.
Deworming must be done often to keep horses healthy. Herbal dewormers are called vermicides and vermifuges. Vermicide kills worms while vermifuge will help the horse's body expel the worms. Tapeworms can be avoided by feeding a horse pumpkin seeds; garlic can help control other kinds of worms. Bot worms are not affected by herbal dewormers.